By Greg Gabriel--
Editor's note: You can read Gabriel's other scouting reports on highly regarded NFL Draft prospects by clicking here.
(CBS) If the Bears don't take care of their quarterback situation in free agency or the first round of the NFL Draft, then they'll need to to take care of it in a later round. After the top three of Notre Dame's DeShone Kizer, Clemson's Deshaun Watson and North Carolina's Mitch Trubisky, the next-best quarterback available in the eyes of most analysts is Texas Tech's Patrick Mahomes.
Mahomes has been a starter since the second half of his freshman year in 2014, when he completed 105 of 185 throws for 1,547 yards, 16 touchdowns and only four interceptions. As a sophomore in 2015, he threw for 4,653 yards, completing 229 of 350 throws for 36 touchdowns and 15 interceptions. This past season, Mahomes was 388-of-591 for 5,051 yards, 41 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. In the past two seasons, Mahomes has completed 64.6 percent of his passes.
The Texas Tech offense was a fast-paced, primarily half-field read spread scheme. There were some full-field reads, but in watching tape, it was difficult to determine exactly what Mahomes is asked to do at the line of scrimmage. In the Tech offense, you seldom saw Mahomes under center.
We will find out Mahomes' verified height and weight later this week at the NFL Combine, but I estimate he will be just under 6-foot-3. He looked heavy last season, perhaps in the 230-pound range. He's a good-but-not-high-level athlete. Mahomes has a short stride and doesn't play like he could break 5.0 in the 40-yard dash. He does have quick feet and shows a good feel for pass rushers. Despite his lack of speed, Mahomes can keep plays alive with his feet. That said, he would be much better off if he plays closer to 220. At his 2016 playing weight, he wasn't a good runner but could scramble a bit.
Mahomes has a quick overhand release to go with a strong arm. For the most part, he throws a tight ball and can make all the throws an NFL quarterback needs to make, though he did get away with throws in college that he won't get away with in the NFL. His footwork can get sloppy and at times, and Mahomes isn't always in balance when he releases the ball. With his great arm strength, he believes he can complete every pass. Because of this, he does have a tendency to force some throws, but he can also make some outstanding throws that show pinpoint accuracy.
Mahomes will need time and coaching to develop, but he has the natural talent to become a really good NFL player. If he gets the time to learn an NFL offense and correct some of his mechanical mistakes, there is some special to him. The worst move you could make for his development would be to play him before he's ready.
The next six weeks will be important for Mahomes, as they are with all quarterback prospects. Mahomes has spent the past six to eight weeks at a performance camp preparing for the NFL Combine, and the hope is he worked on some of his weaknesses there.
After the combine, Mahomes will go through a number of private workouts. Where he gets drafted will largely be determined by those workouts. Mahomes will do classroom work as well as field work, and if he does well, it wouldn't be a surprise to see him selected late in the first round. He will without a doubt not last later than the 10th slot in the second round. While he's raw, Mahomes has too much natural talent to be passed over for long. Don't be shocked if you see him become a fast riser in the draft process.
Greg Gabriel is a former NFL talent evaluator who is an on-air contributor for 670 The Score. Follow him on Twitter @greggabe.
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